It is a noticeable feature of intellectual life that many people research the same topics, but do so using different conceptual and disciplinary baggage, and consequently fail to appreciate how the conclusions they reach echo or complement the conclusions reached by others.
Let’s veer from either science fiction or politics into our politically science-fictional new world of light. Starting with a reminder that my new anthology (with Stephen Potts) Chasing Shadows, is released this week by Tor Books, featuring contributions by William Gibson, James Gunn, Neal Stephenson, Vernor Vinge and many others, offering stories and insights into a future when light flows almost everywhere. Prepare yourself! This might be a good start.
In the age of robotics, the question of life continues to be a puzzling matter of debate. As creatures of biological code, are we more alive than those made up of digital code? Questions like this are debated more so today than at any other time in history.
“Orwell, Huxley and America’s Plunge into Authoritarianism,” Counterpunch, June 19, 2015, by Henry Giroux, the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University.
I venture the challenging statement that if American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
In the era of information wars knowledge of the past is perhaps the only way we can remain anchored to reality. Such collective memory shouldn’t only consist of an accurate record of the facts, but would also include a sense of the history of knowledge and inforwar itself.
Douglas Rushkoff has been observing the Internet’s trajectory since the 1990s, writing 16 influential books about digital culture along the way including Media Virus and Present Shock. Rushkoff’s latest work, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, focuses on the business and investing practices of today’s leading tech companies like Uber and Snapchat, and how they are exaggerating the worst aspects of an economic system that pushes for growth at all costs.
Our two previous posts showed how prospect theory in behavioral economics explains why so many gambled on Trump, and why the artificial intelligence and decision theory expert Eliezer Yudkowsky thinks that this was a mistake. In a post written the day before the election, Yudkowsky expanded on both themes, providing a simple explanation of how many of the gamblers reasoned:
The Swedish philosophy journal Confero has just published a special issue on ‘Transhumanist Politics, Education and Design’, which includes an article by IEET Affiliate Scholar, Steve Fuller, on morphological freedom.
The thing is, we’re all naughty. The specifics of what counts as “wrong” depend on the context, but there isn’t anybody on Earth so boring that haven’t done or aren’t doing something they’d rather not be known worldwide.
Humans are probably not the greatest intelligences in the universe. Earth is a relatively young planet and the oldest civilizations could be billions of years older than us. But even on Earth, Homo sapiens may not be the most intelligent species for that much longer.
(The following is, roughly, the text of a talk I delivered to the IP/IT/Media law discussion group at Edinburgh University on the 25th of November 2016. The text is much longer than what I actually presented and I modified some of the concluding section in light of the comments and feedback I received on the day. I would like to thank all those who were present for their challenging and constructive feedback. All of this builds on a previous post I did on the ‘logical space of algocracy’)
So, literally overnight, we entered the stage of the great normalization. We’ve gone from the almost universal belief among the elites, media and a large number of the American public that electing Trump would be a disaster for the country, the economy, our liberty to an apparent shrug of the shoulders and sycophantic search for advantage in the new order.
I voted today and in spite of all the cynicism of my fellow citizens, I enjoyed it. I love going to my local polling place. I live in the mountains and have the luxury of knowing the people who work there, bumping into neighbors and never, ever having to wait in line. We may be the middle of nowhere, but our polling place rocks. Every vote of mine felt good, even the presidency. Those of you who follow my blog know I’m pro third party, so yes, I voted my conscience today, but more over I also got to vote for a US Senator, US Congressperson, State Assembly and TONS of ballot measures (I live in Cali—we had over 17 propositions!)
Like many others, I am still absorbing the shock of Trump’s victory in the presidential election. For the last month I had been on a holding pattern on the blog in the remote chance the pundits and pollsters had gotten this election terribly wrong. They have. Rather than having elected Hillary Clinton who would have preserved the status quo with all its flaws, but also its protections, a large portion of the electorate has chosen to blow up the system and take a dangerous, potentially dystopian turn.
In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, various class-struggle leftists have been emphasizing neoliberalism as the culprit and highlighting the plight of the white working class. Proponents of these analyses exhort us to organize with the white working class for economic justice as a key component of antiracism.
Tis the season for post-mortems… for pompous declamations and dissections, explaining to us all what the F— just happened. And so, across the next week or so, I’ll offer summaries and links to a panoply of rationalizations for this bizarre turn of events. How liberals, conservatives and other pundits got it wrong… and what I think may be glimmers of actual insight.
In the recent IEET survey we asked about your support or opposition to a variety of movements including transhumanism and singularitarianism. Your answers allow us to tease apart some of the differences between these two movements.